Today we finally had to use our wooden handspike to top up about a foot of water at the first of the two Figure of Three locks. So if you have been wondering why I haven’t written about my experience of using the handspike paddlegear, especially after laying out £11 for the necessary piece of shaped wood, its because up to that one occasion its been completely surplus to requirement. Either there were enough windlass operated paddles to get away without hoisting bits of wood, or we were travelling through locks with a team of community boat volunteers who were extremely handy with said pieces of wood and I was happy to do my share with the windlass. Now that we have passed through the very last lock at which it might possibly be needed it can be relegated to wherever one puts expensive pieces of wood never to be used again. I did suggest to Alan that it might be kept handy for the next time someone climbs on our boat in the night but he thought we’d be more likely to do ourselves an injury that frighten anyone off.
In the continuing new policy of moving along briskly we scampered along the remainder of the Calder and Hebble: its a canal that keeps you on your toes as it changes from river to canal and back again at frequent intervals. With the water levels so low there’s no need for the colour gauges that tell us if its safe to enter the river stretches: the water doesn’t even reach the bottom of the green section. Its a pretty enough canal and although it passes through a fairly industrial area we weren’t really conscious of that.
We lunched at Wakefield at a very noisy mooring next to a construction site. Our only glimpses of Wakefield were from the river but we did see the splendid warehouses in the basin. A couple moored next to us warned of the difficulty of opening the gates at the first lock on the Aire and Calder (yet another new canal – its very bitsy in these parts). Apparently BW were working on it when they came through. The lock is called Fall Ing (is that a pun)? The BW chaps must have done the trick because the gate didn’t get trapped as it had with them but it was extremely heavy and I did wonder if I would be able to move it anyway. Alan was down in the depths of the very large lock and about to climb out when it finally moved. I can’t imagine how people keep boating into old age.
The Aire and Calder itself is wide and easy travelling. We are moored upstream of the first of the three mechanised locks, what luxury for tomorrow. We walked along the wide tarmacked towpath to the next lock and back and it was a glorious evening to be out, bright sunny and the most enormous panorama of blue sky with fluffy white clouds. The sky always seems bigger up north.
Its worth noting that we three boats at the mooring are all Stowe Hill, a first for us. (I was told the other two were real Stowe Hill because ours came later and has a Reeves hull).
Today we did 11.54 Miles, 7 Locks
Statistics so far:-
1690.71 Miles, 1054 Locks, 112 Swing Bridges, 72 Lift Bridges, 32 Tunnels